How Secure Are Smart Locks?

Keeping your home or business secure at all times is imperative. And to do this effectively, many home or business owners are adding smart lock systems to their doors. Residential and business smart locks are designed to connect to Wi-Fi or Bluetooth so that they can be engaged and monitored at all times via a smartphone app. While bulky and jingly keyrings aren’t going anywhere any time soon, upgrading to a smart lock system gives the owner an added sense of security and convenience. And just how secure are smart locks, you ask? Before we get into that, there are some aspects we need to cover first.

How Smart Locks Work

The term “smart” simply means that your lock is compatible with other technology by way of Wi-Fi. The mechanics of a smart lock are not unlike those of a standard lock. That is, you won’t have to replace your door or make costly updates to your home’s exterior in order to upgrade to a smart lock. Of course if your door is warped or off line in such a way that a standard deadbolt can’t operate normally and with ease, then you’ll need to look into fixing this before adding a smart lock.

Just as your key would operate a standard lock, a smart lock engages and disengages by way of a secret code that can be entered on an adjacent keypad (if your model has one) or via a secure smartphone app. Other entry methods include key fobs or biometric sensors (but more on that later). Your app will allow you to lock or unlock the door remotely as well as check the status of the lock itself.

As they are electronic devices, smart locks do require a power supply. For most smart locks, this is nothing more than a couple of AA batteries. And of course you’ll need a reliable home Wi-Fi signal in order for your smart lock to be functional.

Types of Smart Locks

While the vast majority of smart locks on the market will communicate with your phone via an app, you will want to decide what kind of setup you want on the lock itself. As smart locks evolve, customers have more and more features to choose from. Because of this, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the various types of smart locks and decide which one is right for your security needs.

Keypad or Combination Locks

These locks have a simple keypad device on the lock itself and are some of the more popular options in the smart lock market. These locks allow anyone with the code to access your home or building (so you’ll want to be careful with regard to who has the code). And you’ll always have the option of changing the code if you so choose.

Fob Enabled Locks

These types of smart locks lock and unlock via a small fob you might keep on your keychain. Simply wave the fob in front of the scanner to lock or unlock your door. Fobs are a trusty alternative to a keypad, but are only of value to the person carrying it. This might be an option for a single family home, but probably not for a business with many employees needing access.

Biometric Scanners

The most secure (and futuristic) of smart locks engage or disengage by way of a biometric scan. Generally, this is done via fingerprint. But more advanced options can activate by way of a retina scan, facial recognition, or even voice matching. This technology isn’t nearly as common for residential areas as the prior two. Often, these types of scanners will also include a supplemental keypad code.

Pros and Cons of Smart Locks

If you’re weighing the advantages and disadvantages of upgrading to a smart lock system for your home or business, you are not alone. Many homeowners or building managers have gone decades with the simple key and lock system and have had zero issues. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Standard locks and keys have worked for centuries and aren’t going to be disappearing anytime in the near future. The goal of a smart lock, however, is just to add a level of convenience and security when it comes to keeping your property safe. All that being said, here are a few things to consider before making the switch. 

CON: Smart Locks can be difficult to install

DIY smart locks generally come with detailed instructions and require nothing more than a screwdriver or power drill. They’re designed to be installed with ease by the layperson. Still, as is the case with any home improvement feature or Wi-Fi-enabled component in your home, there is room for error. You’ll want to familiarize yourself with the instructions before beginning to ensure the steps make sense. Fortunately, most manufacturers have helpful troubleshooting resources either a click or phone call away.

PRO: Easy to Change Access

With a smart lock, granting or denying access to your home is simple. By simply changing the PIN code on your keypad, you are essentially blocking out any ex-roommates, ex-partners, contractors, previous homeowners, or anyone else you need to keep out. No more collecting keys and/or changing out locks.

CON: Dead Batteries or Power Outages Can Be Problematic

If your home experiences a power outage, and your Wi-Fi router and modem are out of commission, you won’t be able to rely on your smartphone app to get you in your home. Similarly, if your phone battery dies, then your access to the app is rendered useless until you can recharge. For these reasons, smart locks generally have a standard keyhole so you won’t be locked out due to technology (assuming, of course, that you keep track of your key at all times). And your lock’s keypad, running on nothing more than a couple of AA batteries, is not dependent on an external power supply or Wi-Fi, so it will remain operable even if your router and/or phone are not.

PRO: Peace of Mind

Arguably the biggest advantage in upgrading to smart locks is the peace of mind you gain in always knowing whether your home is secured. No longer will you have to anxiously wander the aisles of the grocery store wondering whether or not you locked up. No longer do you have to worry that an intruder is going to find the key you stashed under the mat. Your smart lock status is just a tap away on your phone at all times and you are in full control of who has access to your home or building.

CON: Cost

Yes, smart locks will cost more up front and there’s no way around that. But keep in mind that a trusted smart lock will, in all likelihood, be the last lock you’ll ever need to buy. As we mentioned, you won’t have to change your locks or rekey any time a roommate or ex moves out. You won’t need to spend your weekend running back and forth to the hardware store should you misplace your keys. A simple change on your keypad is all you will ever need to keep your home or business secure.

Are Smart Locks Safe?

In terms of the mechanical aspects of the lock itself, your door is just as safe with a smart lock as it would be with a reliable standard lock. The difference, of course, is the digital component of home security. Smart locks have really taken off in recent years and with more buyers on the market, companies who want to remain in business simply cannot cut corners when it comes to safety and security.While no “smart” device is 100 percent safe from cyberattacks, rest assured that reputable smart lock manufacturers work hard to ensure that their products keep you, your family, and your business safe at all times. If you’d like to know more about smart locks, or want to know if the Barcom Security line of smart locking systems might be the right fit for your home or business, contact us.

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